There are no menus or signs or directions that mention the prime rib sandwich posted anywhere within the store, so I’m gonna tell you how to do this.
Go to Leschi Market on a Friday after 4 pm or a Saturday after 3 pm. Those are the only times they have prime rib. They close at 8, so you have a limited window. Head straight to the back of the store and find the deli counter in the left-hand corner. There will be a couple of people standing around.
Look over the counter and spot the prime rib, gently glowing under the warming lamps like a rupee from the Legend of Zelda. Oh, god. You want to grab it with your jaws and run away with it, like a dog.
There are two places to stand and order, per signage, but you want the place to the left in the corner—the aisles are narrow and it’s kind of a bottleneck situation if you’re standing right in the middle of the thoroughfare. Tell your boyfriend to get out of the way and go find some snacks to pair with the sandos, perhaps one of those Ruby Jewel ice cream sandwiches. The honey-lavender one with the lemon sugar cookies is the best.
Get the attention of the deli man, which isn’t easy, and order your prime rib sandwiches. You might have to raise your voice. He will nod, approach the luminous roast, and begin meticulously carving pieces off. It takes forever. The man has been doing this for decades and his art is precise and sacrosanct, so be patient. I know, there’s no good place to stand. It’s not your fault.
The man will come back to the counter and you’ll think it’s time, but it’s just so he can weigh your meat slices on the scale. Then he’ll go back and do more things. Eventually, he will hand you a hefty brick wrapped in butcher paper, along with a cardboard to-go soup bowl and a tiny plastic thing of horseradish.
The deli sticker says fourteen bucks, jesus christ, but no, you know what? That’s fine. It’s two meals’ worth. Flinch and then power through. Follow the wall of coolers to the checkout line and grab a cold drink on your way. The clerk will comment on how good the prime rib sandwich is. It’s SO good, she tells you. You’re getting excited.
It seems natural that you should take your picnic to the T Dock on Lake Washington a couple blocks north, but if it’s crowded, there’s a lovely grassy hillside with a giant sequoia at Leschi Park, next to the market. If you’re not feeling romantic on this day, set up shop at the picnic benches right next to the store parking lot by the trash cans. It doesn’t matter. The sandwich wants to get inside your body ASAP.
It’s prime time. Unwrap the butcher paper. Unwrap the foil inside. It’s your prime rib sandwich. It’s on a shiny ciabatta roll, dressed with a smear of dijon mustard on either side, and that’s it. Take the saran wrap off the soup cuppy, which has beef jus in it and which you can now smell and want to drink. Don’t drink it yet. Take off the lid of the sandwich and add a little crumble of horseradish and put the lid back on. Marvel at how gorgeous and perfectly done the prime rib is, and how some bits are still slightly bleeding. Dunk a sandwich-half in the jus. Take a bite.
Holy shit. The prime rib is fatty but without actual chunks of fat, like prime rib is usually served at a restaurant—just marbley and unctuous. The richness of the meat is cut expertly by the exact correct amount of mustard. The bread is moist with an open, airy crumb and a chewy outer shell. The jus is beefy and red-winey and makes you think of a steakhouse from the ’50s, something about the herb profile you can’t put your finger on. It’s a grand symphony coming together. Everything, everything about this sandwich is on the money, in the pocket, chef’s kiss, bombs bursting in air, gloria in excelsis.
About 30 seconds after you start eating, a yellowjacket will try to land on your sandwich and a crow will land on the other picnic bench and beg for a sample, or maybe that’s just my user experience. Give them each a little morsel. You love them both. You’re just so happy right now.
103 Lakeside Ave, Seattle, WA 98122
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